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Spider with 16 legs

Spider next to solid cloth stitch

A spider is a decorative effect in Torchon lace where 4 or more pairs meet. The pairs form the legs before and after the centre, or body. This is a 16 legged spider, with 8 pairs. See pattern 8.

Please note that the leg of a spider is a twisted pair of threads. This should not be confused with a plait, which can be called a leg in English Midland lace.

Pattern for spider
Spider pattern

You can see that the spider fits within a diamond of pins. Unlike solid areas, you do work up to and including these surrounding pinholes before starting on the spider. The threads from the points of the diamond of pins are not actually involved in the spider at all.

A peculiarity of the 16 legged spider is that although this is a Torchon design, the middle pin is not on the normal Torchon grid. Instead, it is half-way between where you would expect pins to go (in, say, Torchon ground).

The stitches used in this spider are twist single pair and cloth stitch. This diagram shows each pair as a line. Wherever two lines cross, the pairs are worked in cloth stitch. If you find it hard to understand, have a look at the explanation of the 8 legged spider which gives a fuller diagram.


Repeat Step Back

Working: First work all lace above the spider, down to and including, the framing pins. In the diagram this is shown as Torchon ground, but it could be something else. Spiders are often framed by solid areas of lace.

Work out the pairs that will form the spider. This is a 16 legged spider, so there will be 8 pairs, 4 on each side. Twist each pair several times - I do at least 6 each. This twisting is not shown in the diagram, but it is an essential part of the spider.

There are four rows before the pin (and four more rows after). Each of the pairs on the left are worked across each of the pairs on the right, in cloth stitch, then pin, then worked back again in cloth stitch. Look at the explanation of the 8 legged spider and the 12 legged spider for more detail. A detailed explanation, stitch by stitch of the 16 legged spider would get tedious, and probably confuse you! But I will add a warning. The workers must only work across pairs from the other side of the spider. They must not work across any pairs from their own side. This is a common error. There are four, and only four, cloth stitches in each row.

Remember to tighten well at the pin. Tighten when the spider is finished, to tidy things up a bit, but you will need to tighten again when the legs enter the rest of the lace. Unfortunately the pins surrounding the spider do not belong to it, but to the rest of the lace, which explains this delay before you can tighten properly.

One final comment - an 8 legged spider has a small, neat body, and the 12 legged spider is acceptable, but a 16 legged spider is starting to have a largish, oval-shaped body. There is nothing that you can do about this, however much you tighten.